Violence against Women: Between the Family and State Institutions

photo-3In light of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, al-Qasemi Academy and the Gender Studies Program (GSP) at Mada al-Carmel—Arab Center for Applied Social Research hosted a one-day research seminar entitled “Violence against Women: Between the Family and State Institutions.” Dr. Daher-Nashif, a lecturer at al-Qasemi Academy and coordinator of the GSP, oversaw the seminar, which took place at 2:30 pm at al-Qasemi, on Saturday, November 29th.

Mr. Fadi Qad‘an, director of al-Qasemi’s public relations department, opened the seminar by noting the importance of the day and presenting statistics indicating the  extent of violence against women. He pointed out that out of the one million individuals in the state of Israel whose lives have been impacted by general violence, there are 72 cases of domestic violence presented to authorities daily. The seminar then welcomed Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, director of the GSP. Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian emphasized the importance of the specific context of Palestinian women in Israel, who are affected by violence amid the structural oppression and asymmetries of power. She cautioned against succumbing to the tendency to separate the political atmosphere from the social and personal spheres.

photo-5Following the opening remarks, Mrs. Saeda Mogary-Renawi, a researcher at the  “Women Access to Justice” Project  at Mada al-Carmel, feminist, social activist, and doctoral student at the Hebrew University, shared the results of a research project entitled “The Israeli Judicial System’s Engagement with Cases of Violence against Women.” Mrs. Mogary-Renawi focused on the experiences of women who sought assistance from the police, only to find themselves facing an arduous journey through prejudiced bureaucracy, marginalization, and cultural insensitivity. Mrs. Mogary-Renawi noted the number of Palestinian women who are subjected to domestic violence is rising, stating that one out of three Palestinian women living in Israel has been the victim of physical or psychological abuse.

The second presentation was given by Dr. Afnan Masarweh, a researcher and lecturer at al-Qasemi Academy, whose article “Conceptualizing Violence against Children by Abused Women ” was based on field research documenting the experiences of women caught in a two-fold cycle of violence. These women were simultaneously victims of violence at the hands of their husbands or their families, while they themselves perpetrated violence photo-4towards their children. Dr. Masarweh pointed to the fact that the women internalize the psychological and physical violence done against them, and in turn, this affects the way they treat their children. These women had a tendency to express a strong desire to stop the beating their children, and to replace physical discipline with dialogue as an educational tool. Dr. Masarweh noted that this expression is an indication of the women’s desire to rid themselves of violence, thus stopping the cycle of violence.

The two presentations were followed by questions and comments from the audience. The ensuing discussion raised a number of key points, among them was the need for further research that addresses the issues of the psychological violence that women face, understanding the role of the state and its institutions in the promotion of violence within the Palestinian community in general, as well as the violence against women in particular, and the role of women in contributing to patriarchal structures within society.

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